CATBOATS AND KNOCKABOUTS
WHILE the smaller sail
craft, dories, duckboats and sailing batteaux answer very well for the
boy of from ten to fifteen years of age, the youth of sixteen to twenty
will be more satisfied with a larger craft; one that can enter the
regular races of the Yacht Club -- and right here enters a great sport,
one of the finest -- yacht racing -- a sport that brings out to the
full all the skill, seamanship, sportsmanship and gentlemanliness that
is in the youth. No sport is more real -- less savoring of a mere game
-- and no sport is a keener test of character. There are times when it
is essential to hold your way, -- to have your rights; when giving way
is not generosity but mawkishness; and there are other times in this
great sport when a really unfair advantage can be taken, and then the
promptings of generous sportsmanship may take full sway; and, as these
situations occur again and again in the great game of life, there is no
better training for the youth than yachting, if he is to be a whole man
in later years.
The cat rig has the great merit of simplicity. There is
only one sail to manage, and that means a good deal for an
inexperienced skipper in a heavy blow. The disadvantages of the cat are
its hard helm, its slowness in proportion to its sail speed, and -- to
me -- its simplicity! By that I mean the lack of finesse in sailing
which is otherwise made possible in the sloop rig by the jib.
A 16-FT RACING CATBOAT
I graduated from the cat rig at the age of eleven,
and never returned to it in any of my own boats. The jib, with its
infinite possibilities in expert seamanship, in balance of the helm, in
nicety of judgment, has always been to me a fascinating sail, and of
course jib and mainsail, foot for foot area, are always faster than
mainsail alone, partly because the balance of the sail takes the hard
helm off her, eliminating that back rudder pressure so retarding to the
speed of the boat, and partly because the sloop lines are finer, the
cat requiring a tubby model to withstand the big pressure of her
mainsail. Of late years designers have gotten somewhat finer lines by
using the sliding gunter rig for small cats and topping up the gaff as
high as can be swung, thus putting the bulk of the sail pressure low
This is an important idea, boys, and I want you to get it.
If you look at any of the older cat models you will find the gaff
nearly as long as the boom, the sail, when hoisted, very square, with a
great peak towering aloft and well out from the mast. Now, the wind
pressure is always heavier up above the water than right on it -- that
is the reason your small boat's sail will often hang slack, while the
big fellow bowls right ahead; he has a puff of wind that has raised off
the water and passed over your head. Now this big accumulation of wind
pressure up in the peak gives a heavy capsizing effect on the boat, and
to withstand it you have to use the tubby cat model, more than half as
wide as she is long. Compensating for this by making it very shallow
and dishlike, you get considerable speed on a fiat keel, but as soon as
she heels she digs her bilge into the briny and you have an awkward
shape to drive through the water.
But if you top up that peak nearly straight, you get the
bulk of the sail area down low, almost like a leg-o'-mutton as shown in
the illustration of a handsome little 16-foot catboat for boys, and the
rig becomes safe and the lines of the boat fine and fast.
A 16-FT. LAPSTRAKE CATBOAT FOR BOYS
Let us look at that model a little more, for she is
a fine boy's boat, and, by building her with a skipjack deadrise
bottom, she can be built by any boy from 16 years up in age.
The lap strake shown in the designs is too complicated for
ordinary carpentry, so I suggest instead a skipjack mid-ship section,
taking but three wide boards on a side, and using the same keel, stem,
transom and skeg shown. You will note that the skipjack rib is in two
straight pieces joined by a knee brace, and a chine is bent around the
outside of the frames at this joint, and against this chine the upper
and lower planks can swell shut.
FRAME PLAN AND DECK PLAN OF 16-FT
If you tried to join them direct, as is often done
with motor boats, it is hard to keep the joint tight, as there is
nothing for the planks to swell against when the boat goes overboard.
However, working out a set of five frames, you can design yourself a
skipjack cat that will be as fast and sassy as the boat shown in our
plans. I would suggest 7/8-inch white cedar planking, and chine and
frames, also keel board, of 1-inch white oak. The keel board had best
be of 1 x 12-inch dressed oak plank, rockered as in plans, transom of
the same stock, stem and stern knee of 2-inch stock. The deck I would
make of 3/4-inch white pine boards covered with 10-ounce duck canvas,
and the board would be preferably of straight posts as shown.
FRAMING PLANS AND DECK PLAN OF
16-FT RACING CATBOAT
here for larger image
A word on the sliding gunter rig. If you top up the
gaff until you get it almost perpendicular it is almost impossible to
make the jaws stay around the mast. They cannot be made of wood and get
enough bend, but they can be made of brass rodding or heavy galvanized
wire for canoe rigs, and are held to the mast by the topmost mast ring.
This is essentially a weak construction, and, while well enough for
canoes and small boats, when your sail pressures get large the best
plan is to discard it altogether and use a sliding gunter. This, as you
will note from the drawing, is a metal gaff collar, a standard boat
fitting, sliding up and down the mast, and to it is bolted the end of
the gaff. A single halyard raises the latter, and it is shown rigged
with a bridle to distribute the strain on the gaff, which ought to be
as light a spar as possible to save overhead weight. The sail has 115
square feet of surface and is 14-foot boom, 12-foot gaff, and 19-foot
6-inch leach, with hoist about 5 feet. The mast should be 2-inch, 10
A great advantage of all cats, as cruisers, is that the
mast is stepped well for'd, giving one a big, open cockpit. This
permits a cabin on even a 20-foot cat, and a cabin is a tremendous
convenience. It need not necessarily be high enough to stand up in --
never spoil the looks of your boat for cabin height; but it does afford
a refuge in case of thunder squalls, a place for the galley and a
sleeping place at night, eked out by a tent over the cockpit, hung from
the boom. With such a catboat a couple of fellows can cruise anywhere
there is fishing, shooting or racing to be had, living aboard the boat
for a week and having a high old time at it, infinitely preferable to
going ashore and setting up a tent on the sand.
A KNOCKABOUT RIG FOR A 22-FT DECKED
Closely allied to the sail cat shown is the
jib-and-mainsail sailing skiff, a popular design for youths being
included in these chapters. You can convert any oyster skiff to this
rig with very little work. The dimensions of the average skiff are 21
feet by about 6 feet 6 inches beam, and they can be picked up
alongshore for from $50 used to $100 new. They have a centerboard, and
usually the oystermen rig them with a large sprit sail and removable
mast. The so-called one-design racing dory class, recently built for
the Panama Yacht Club, is practically just what you can do by stepping
a standing rig in an oyster "skift" as the longshoremen call them. The
boat is simply decked over fore and aft, with washboards and a traveler
over the tiller (or, in the design shown, the rudder is underhung and
worked through a post coming up just aft of the cockpit but the old
skiff rudder is just as good and easier to handle).
The dimensions are 22 feet long by 6 feet 4 inches beam,
and she carries 228 square feet of sail. The mainsail is 15 feet 6
inches boom, 12 feet 9 inches hoist, 9 feet 7 inches gaff, and 22 feet
4 inches leach. The jib is 15 feet 6 inches hoist, 13 feet 8 inches
luff, and 6 feet 6 inches foot. A spinnaker with 10-foot 6-inch spar is
provided for racing.
But the best small racing craft of all for boys is the
knockabout. In the old days designers used to build a yacht with sharp
vertical bow and a long bowsprit that overhung like a spar. Such a boat
always slowed up in a head sea, and, when running before the wind, was
apt to dig her nose into a wave and "broach to," that is, slew around
on her nose until broadside to the wind, when she would generally
capsize. These were bad points, and the short body of the yacht made
good sharp entrance lines impossible. So, why not have the bowsprit
part of the boat hull itself, so that it would lift her up in a heavy
sea and make it easy also for the designer to give her long, easy
entrance lines -- In a word, the knockabout model of today.
SAIL PLAN OF A 26-FT LOA KNOCKABOUT
here for larger image.
Another thing: most boats sail on their sides, not
on their bottoms, and the formula for speed says that, other things
being equal, a boat is faster in proportion to her length. Now a
knockabout on an even keel will draw only, say, 15 to 25 feet of
waterline, but when she heels down on her side she puts all of her
shell into the water for its full length, 25 to 40 feet respectively,
and thereby increases her speed, besides giving her good lifting power
when her nose hits a wave. And so the knockabout came to stay, and, as
it beat the older models all to pieces and was much safer to sail, the
latter went out of existence entirely. In general the knockabouts are
built with rather shallow sections and a deep fin keel; the overhang
fore and aft when on an even keel is very large, taking the place of
the bowsprit and stern outrigger of early days; the jib is entirely
inboard so you do not have to crawl out over the pickle and get soused
with salt spray in furling it (as I had to when a boy) ; the mainsail
is of the modern shape, with gaff cocked well up and center of effort
kept low -- and how she can sail! I've seen the large Class Q
knockabouts raced against the famous Sandy Hook boats and give them
quite an argument before they dropped astern, and the little ones can
beat anything in cats, sloops or dories that carry sail.
THE POPULAR 15-RATER KNOCKABOUT
Our illustrations show the smallest of the
knockabouts, the 16 feet L.W.L., 26 feet over all. The beam is 7 feet 5
inches, so you see she is not so narrow; the draft, including fin, is 4
feet 6 inches or about three feet to the bottom of the boat measured
from the taffrail. They carry about 1700 pounds of lead ballast in the
keel, and of course are too complicated for youthful carpenters to
attempt. The best way to acquire one is to buy them secondhand in the
fall, when their rich owners are willing to part with them for a few
hundred dollars, having usually built the boat solely to enter some
The sail area of the boat shown is 330 square feet, which
is a good deal more than double that of the 16-foot catboat just
described, and a third larger than that of the sail skiff. The boom is
19 feet 6 inches; gaff, 18 feet 4 inches; hoist, 10 feet; and leach, 32
feet. Jib has 18-ft. hoist; 14-ft. luff and 7 ft. 10 in. foot. A
spinnaker with 18-foot pole completes the sail set. A little house or
cabin aids in making her a good weather boat, besides providing a
cruising shelter, of sorts. This boat is primarily for racing, but
modern designers have worked up cruising knockabouts that are better
cruisers than any of the older designs of cats and sloops.
In the design you will note that the matter of strength in
mounting and staying the mast has received especial attention. The two
weak points in any boat are the mast step and the shroud anchorages.
These, with the mast itself, constitute a triangular truss that must
withstand the enormous sail pressures. No ordinary mast step will do;
note that the step used in knockabouts is a heavy oak timber, secured
to half a dozen ribs as well as to the stem for'd. The ribs and mast
partners are braced at the mast sections with knees, and doubled ribs
are put in here to give a stout anchorage to the chain plates. Note
also a new rope in the rigging that you have not seen before. It runs
from the masthead back to a cleat about amidships on each side, and is
called the backstay preventer (or rather preventers as there are two of
them, to port and starboard).
One or the other of them is in use when broad reaching or
going dead before the wind with spinnaker set in both cases. The
ordinary drive of the mainsail is taken care of by the aft pitch of the
main shrouds, but, with the spinnaker added, the pressure would pull
the mast over forward if it were not for the preventer backstay. The
lee preventer is slacked off its cleat and the weather one belayed as
the boat comes about so there is always one of them working.
While the design of a knockabout looks hard, I believe
that a simplified model, with centerboard (as many of them are
designed), and the planking covered with canvas, would not be out of
the question for four youths of 18 to 20 years of age to build. I would
suggest a 2 x 12-inch oak keel, steam bent to fit the lines shown and
take the place of the stern hook on the usual three-piece keel of
larger craft. A natural bent 3 x 6-inch oak stem and a stern knee of
3-inch stock serve for your main members. Oak stern transom of 1-1/8
inch stock; planking of 7/8-inch white pine with No. 00 duck canvas
skin. An 8-foot board will be plenty for this boat, and the bottom of
centerboard trunk logs are rockered to fit the sweep of the keel. The
logs would be of 2 x 12-inch hard pine; upper boards of 1-1/8-inch
yellow pine; centerboard of 1-7/8-inch willow oak.
Both board and trunk are through-bolted with half-inch
iron rods. You would need a skeg and rudder post, and the boat itself
ought to be a foot wider beam than the dimensions of the one shown with
keel, and the ballast, about 800 pounds of it, in sand bags in each
bilge behind the cockpit seats making 1600 pounds in all. Ribs of 1 x
7/8-inch oak stock, steam bent. A heavy sawed frame every third rib,
gotten out of 2-inch stock, makes a stiffer boat of her, leaving the
work of pinning the planks firmly together to the thinner steam-bent
Our chapter on boat construction in general will give you
details of construction of all minor parts of a boat of this size, so
that it will not be hard to design in the rest of the boat yourself.
The fine points of boat sailing really deserve a chapter
to themselves but our space in this book is limited. Indeed whole books
have been written on the sole subject of handling a racing yacht under
all conditions that are likely to occur during the adventures of the
racing skipper. However, for the youthful beginner, I believe that I
will get in here about all you will need to make a good all-around
skipper, leaving the rest for you to learn in the big school of
experience in actual cruising and racing.
To begin with the cat rig. She carries necessarily a hard
weather helm, due to the immense driving power of the mainsail which is
unbalanced by any jib. This necessitates the rudder being always a
considerable bit out of true with the keel and retards her speed, as
you may have often noted in your motor boat in turning a curve and
observing her engine slowing down and the boat losing headway. There is
no help for this with the cat rig, and she pulls your arm off, nearly,
particularly when you are a boy of only fourteen years as I was when I
sailed the famous cat Peggy owned by my uncle. To relieve this pull on
your arm we used the ropes for securing the boom in the lazy tongs when
in port. These are short half-inch hemp bent through rings on the deck,
and a turn of the weather rope around the tiller took the strain off
your arm yet gave you entire control by keeping a hand on the tail of
it. A good hunch for a cat rig of 18-foot boom and over.
In handling a cat tacking, all beginners learn as a first
instruction to keep her just rap full, that is, just enough off the
wind to prevent the sail luffing or shivering up near the mast. A good
skipper will follow his wind closely, eating up into it in strong puffs
instead of spilling it by letting go sheet, yet not sending her up so
smart as to kill her headway. When the wind slackens do not keep her
broad away but hold her reasonably on the course and do your gaining in
the puffs or "catspaws." You can see these come over the water in black
prickles over the waves. Your only danger when "on the wind," or
tacking, is in getting such a knockdown puff that you cannot let out
sheet because the boom is already fouled in the water. This causes more
upsets than any other thing that besets amateur sailors.
If in such a fix, loose the peak halyard instantly.
Throwing her sharp up into the wind will help some, but you really can
not do much with either helm or sheet, and had best use the time you
have left, which is a few seconds, in spilling the peak which will save
her every time. For this reason always have the halyards belayed with a
single turn, crossing over the cleat once and then under it, the free
end of the halyard in a short loop. The rest of the halyard is neatly
coiled down on deck in a tight rope spiral, and a pull on the loop
frees the halyard and she runs out without a moment's loss of time in
lifting a coil off the cleat or anything else. It is best to anticipate
what appears to be a knockdown catspaw coming by shoving her up into
the wind and spilling some by starting the sheet, when you will only
get a furious luffing instead of your boom being driven under water.
Another cause of upset on the wind is main sheet made
fast. Only sheer carelessness would tolerate this in a small boat, and
in a larger one the sheet is belayed like a halyard so it can instantly
be started. For a sail canoe the sheet is held always in the hand, as
she is so lively that she responds heavily to the least change of wind
and at no time is the pull of the sheet very heavy. In small sail
batteaux, duckboats, sail dories and cats, the sheet has a single turn
under the aft horn of the cleat, so it can be easily shifted to spill
wind, yet half of its pull is taken by the cleat. This also prevents
the sail "skying" under the lifting power of the peak and prevents the
peak itself bagging off to leeward when it lifts the boom. In cats and
knockabouts of 18 to 30 feet over all the main sheet is rove through
one or more boom blocks and the traveler block and then finally secured
on the main cleat with a loop under the turn. Our various sail craft
drawings each show different ways of rigging the main sheet.
A final point in sailing on the wind is to know when you
have the right of way and to hold it at all costs, only yielding to the
road hog when it is absolutely necessary to save your boat -- not his!
Warn him by the hail, "Right of Way!" and then hold your course.
Nowadays, particularly among the newly rich, one encounters skippers
ignorant of the Rules of the Road at sea, and, as these gentry have an
idea that they own the earth anyway because of their lately acquired
wealth, they are apt to pay small attention to the rights of others
when sailing. You have the right of way when on the starboard tack;
that is, when the wind is blowing on your face when you look to
starboard. Hold your course; it is up to the other fellow to keep
clear, and if you do not hold your course he does not know what to do
himself. Another way to remember it is, "When your boom is out to port,
you're on the starboard tack" and vice versa, so when you are tacking
out to a mark and are reaching it on the starboard tack, and your rival
is swooping down on it on the port tack, keep on your way and round the
mark. If he crosses ahead of you he is taking chances of being run
down, and if he runs into you to port he must stand all damages to your
boat. His best scheme is to crowd down on you as close as he dares and
then luff up hard, filling in on you to windward when you come around
the mark and lay over on the port tack. You still have the right of
way, as the windward boat must keep clear of the one on his lee.
In broad and close reaching, that is, running across the
wind either with it somewhat astern (broad) or somewhat ahead (close)
you have a fast point of sailing and little danger, and the sail is let
out until it shows a trifle of quiver in the luff. Do not try to follow
the wind too much, as she is apt to yaw and broach in the seas,
particularly if long and heavy ones, and the continual drag of the
rudder in rectifying her course will slow her down a lot. It is much
better to anticipate, -- "feel your boat," as it is called -- a mere
flip of the tiller, taken at the right moment before she begins to yaw
and slew, stopping the tendency without any undue drag. If she get away
from you, let her go and ease her back to the course gradually. Always
aim to land to weather of your mark, so as to have something to come
and go on. If it is before the wind on the homeward stretch, have the
spinnaker ready to let go, for every second counts with it after you
round the mark. Cut it close and let go the pole.
Before the wind is, to my mind, the most dangerous point
of sailing to the tyro skipper, particularly in handling a cat. There
are two things to look out for, jibing and broaching to, also
ballooning of the mainsail. The peak tries to raise the sail up more
than ever, and, as the sheet cannot now hold it down, it may throw the
boom up so that the wind catches under it. The result is a folding up
or ballooning of the mainsail, a tremendous jibe as the boom falls over
on the other side of the mast, and, most likely, an upset or a cracked
mast. The prevention for such condition is to slack off the peak
halyards quite a bit, enough to drop a big, inactive bag in the peak,
and, in a high wind, drop the gaff down altogether, letting it hang
behind the mast. These precautions are necessary with the old-design,
broad cat sails whenever you have a heavy wind astern and high rolling
seas. The modern cat sail, with nearly vertical boom and battened leach
has much less of this tendency to balloon, as the lifting of the gaff
is impossible -- it is cocked up already as high as it can go!
"Broaching to" occurs when a boat is being driven hard
before the wind in a heavy sea and catches the wave ahead. She at once
buries her nose in it, and, as the rear wave lifts her stern, she slews
around broadside on, with main boom dragging in the water, and likely,
upsets. The old models, with sharp, straight stems and hard lines
for'd, were particularly apt to this sin, and the cure for it was to
carry less sail, put in a reef, so as to still get the benefit of the
lift of the peak. Another way was to sail slightly off dead before the
wind. Modern boats, with long overhanging bows lift over such waves
when they catch them, and are far less likely to broach to.
Jibing is a part of the regular game of sailing, and, if
done right is no great storm on a small craft. When you are dead before
the wind the boom has but little preference as to which side it will go
from your mast, and if you let her yaw or sheer much from dead before
the wind towards the side where your boom is, the wind will get behind
it and throw it around suddenly and violently, sweeping everything
before it, and, if the wind is strong and the boom large, the craft
will most likely capsize with her own momentum. Yet if this same jibe
is performed intentionally, and the boom hauled close aboard before
throwing her around with the helm so as to get the wind on the other
side of the sail, it can be done without much danger and is often done
so, in cruising and racing, when the course changes from dead before
the wind to a broad reach.
Many a time we had to "wear ship" with the old
square-rigged sloop of war Portsmouth, on which I spent many of my
youthful days! When wind and tide together make it impossible to tack
the ship, the alternative is to let her fall off until dead before the
wind, and then come up on the other tack -- "wear ship" it is called by
seafaring men. It means all hands on the braces, four of them in a
bundle in your hands, and all the crew pulling and hauling on them
together as the ship wears. In jibing a small boat, if taken unawares
and you find the boom starting in on her, it can often be headed off
and the effects much diminished by throwing the helm smartly down, that
is, the tiller towards the sail, thus putting her on a broad reach. If
she comes over in spite of you, throw your weight across the boat so as
to lift the boom high when it gets over on the other side, and grab the
main sheet so as to ease her over. The thing to prevent is the boat
dipping so violently as to bury the boom in the water, when you no
longer have control over it and are due for a capsize.
With jib and mainsail the young skipper's problems are
much increased, but his rewards are greater in a perfectly balanced
rig. The tendency of the jib is to pull the bow away from the wind;
that of the mainsail to drive her up into the wind. The latter should
always have the greater force; too big a jib is very dangerous, for, in
a hard catspaw, it will not let her come up when you spill wind out of
the mainsail but sets her further abeam all the time. The only
salvation then is to let fly the jib sheet quick. But, with the jib and
mainsail properly balanced, if you spill your wind and shove the helm
down she will come up into the wind and luff the jib also, and you are
Ballast also has a great deal to do with it, so that if
you find your jib giving her a lee helm, shift the ballast further
forward until you get her well balanced with a slight weather helm,
that is, a slight tendency to come up into the wind, when both mainsail
and jib are sheeted home close hauled. My boat, the Margaret, was so
perfectly balanced that she would sail with the skipper's shinbone
against the tiller, a mere turn of the leg correcting the helm.
Moreover, in a light wind she would sail herself, with jib and mainsail
properly set. She would come up, hang in stays, fall off, come up again
and this time go about on the other tack, and keep this up
indefinitely, with her skipper lying indolently in the bottom of the
boat. I was once boarded by some anxious fishermen who thought the boat
gone adrift and sailing herself, with her youthful skipper drowned
In coming about with a sloop rig, after the familiar hail,
"Hard a-lee!" is given by the skipper, the helm is put down hard and
jib sheet slacked off. The boat goes in stays with both jib and
mainsail luffing, and the jib sheet is still held on cleat while the
jib fills on the other side, thus throwing the bow around. As soon as
the mainsail fills and is sheeted home, the weather jib sheet is
slacked off and the lee sheet snugged home and cleated, and you are
"all standing" on the other tack. A good sloop ought to get about in
seven seconds. Always remember that the jib is the last sail set and
the first sail down, for, if the mainsail comes down first, the jib
will play "Charley Horse" with you until you get it down and furled,
for with it up alone you have no control of the boat whatever. Get the
driving power of the mainsail on her first, and then up with your jib.
The only time this rule is broken is when running dead before the wind
in such a heavy blow that not even a rag of the mainsail can be set.
Sometimes I have scudded before a storm with only the jib set, and made
excellent time at it too!
In going dead before the wind the jib might just as well
come down, as the mainsail and spinnaker rob it of all the wind. The
boy's simplest rig for a spinnaker that I can suggest would be:
spinnaker boom rigged with slippery jim like a sprit, put on the mast
just above the first mast ring. Boom has spinnaker sheet block on outer
end. Use topping lift for spinnaker halyard and start out in the race
with the spinnaker up and in fine twine stops along the mast, and
spinnaker sheet already rove through pole block. The pole is carried
lashed alongside of mast, upright. Now then; when you round that outer
buoy, every second counts in getting the spinnaker set, for she will
jump ahead as soon as she feels it, and if the other fellow gets his
set first he will catch you. A boy at the spinnaker boom sets its end
in the slippery jim, with guy led aft and sheet led around mast to
leeward, and at the hail "Let go spinnaker!" he drops pole out, yanks
on spinnaker sheet to break the stop threads, and hauls it out flat on
the boom, while the skipper is belaying the spinnaker guy on a cleat at
the stern. Set it flat or ballooned out, according to the wind, by
hauling in or paying out on the spinnaker sheet. If you have a balloon
jib set also, it will pay to balloon the spinnaker out a bit, so that
the wind spilled from the spinnaker will tumble into the balloon jib,
giving that sail a little pull also.
Finally, the art of setting sails. A sail set
dead flat will not be worth much. Shakespeare proved himself an able
seaman when he made the line, "The wind sits in the shoulder of your
sail." The ideal sail set is the curve of a bird's wing, or an
aeroplane. It needs a full bag up near the luff, and then a nice flat
plane aft, so that the wind, having done its work in the shoulder of
your sail, can be passed out aft, dead, without any bags or pockets to
retain it. For this reason a ''nigger heel" jib and ditto clew and peak
for the mainsail are always slow. The wind gets in that pointed bag in
the sail and stays there, and that much of the sail might just as well
be cut off with the scissors, for all the good it does!
A slight out-curve or fullness to the leach of the
mainsail corrects the "nigger heel" tendency, and the same thing on the
jib is done by cutting the foot, not on a straight line, but with a
downward curve as you will notice in all the jibs shown in these
illustrations. To get that desirable fullness in the luff, the young
skipper will be careful to set up his gaff so high as to throw some
wrinkles in the luff before starting, and also the lacing around the
boom and gaff are eased off up near the luff and drawn taut aft.
Finally, see that the peak halyard has a good grip, far out towards the
upper end of the gaff. Otherwise it will sag off to leeward and you
lose a lot of driving power.
In two-sail craft like sharpies and decked sailing canoes,
a certain balance is again obtained by the proportions of the two
sails. In this case the small sail astern, the mizzen, becomes the
driver and is your "safety sail." It should go up first instead of the
mainsail, for the tendency of the mizzen is always to drive the bow of
the boat or canoe up into the wind -- the point of safety. Every time
you spill wind from the mainsail, your mizzen drives her up into the
wind; without it you would most likely fall off the wind, as the
mainsail is stepped so far forward, and you would be in a bad way
indeed! So, set the mizzen and keep it trimmed a trifle closer than you
are handling the mainsail, thus giving her a weather helm. In this way
your rudder has a better hold on her, aided by the sails, and she will
come about nicely, even though the boat is long and narrow with a long,
rather deep keel. In coming about, throw her up into the wind and,
after going in stays, back the mizzen, that is, reach around and hold
its boom up to windward, thus using it to slew the stern quickly around
and allowing the mainsail to fill off on the other tack.
And, do not douse the mizzen in a canoe when paddling with
the double blade paddle. Theoretically leaving the mizzen up would drag
you astern because of the constant luffing; practically, the wind is
constantly shifting a trifle, filling the mizzen first on one side and
then the other, and you can actually feel the drive of it. And, all the
time, it is holding her head up into the wind so that you are not
continually paddling on one side or another to bring her back into the
wind, as you have to when having no sail up and paddling into a head
While you will use but three knots constantly, the clove
hitch (double half hitch), bowline knot and square (or reef) knot,
there are about 20 others that you occasionally have use for aboard
ship. The list of them is given below and the drawings for which I am
indebted to Messrs. Chas. Durkee are given, loose-tied.
KNOTS AND BENDS USED IN SEAMANSHIP
1. Bight of a rope.
2. Simple or overhand knot.
3. Figure 8 knot.
4. Double knot.
5. Boat knot.
6. Bowline, first step.
7. Bowline, second step.
8. Bowline, completed.
9. Square or reef knot.
10. Sheet bend or weaver's knot.
11. Sheet bend with toggle.
12. Carrick bend.
13. Stevedore knot complete.
14. Stevedore knot commenced.
15. Slip knot.
16. Flemish loop.
17. Chain knot with toggle.
22. Timber-hitch and half-hitch.
25. Round turn and half-hitch.
24. Fisherman's bend.
26. Wall knot commenced.
27. Wall knot completed.
28. Wall knot crown commenced.
29. Wall knot crown completed.
© 2002 Craig O'Donnell, editor & general factotum.
May not be reproduced without my permission. Go scan your own damn